We are a US$4.5 billion company in a US$49 billion total addressable market. That total addressable market is growing very quickly – 8.4% over the next few years – and we account for less than 10%.
There’s a lot of opportunity if we focus and deliver on product innovation. Maybe in ten years’ time we’ll do something different, but at this time this is very much the focus, and we believe that focus creates value for long-term shareholder gain.
Have you met problems in Asia expecting accounting staff to undertake non-traditional accounting roles such as forecasting, strategy, planning, analysis, business partnering?
Definitely we need to train them and make sure people understand the broader business. We need to make sure that we’re communicating broadly across the company and that we’re bringing parts of the business to finance to educate the team.
I’m an accountant by training, I’m actually a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. My view is that [accounting] is a very important skill set. Numbers are very important.
But in a business like ours, which is about people, you have to understand people. Making sure we understand the industry landscape, the competitive environment, is very important for the finance team as well.
It would seem that management accounting, rather than CPA, is the more important designation given finance’s evolving roles.
It doesn’t matter which discipline you started in. It’s really that curiosity and making sure you’re continually learning different skill sets.
I know personally that’s been a huge part of my career. Starting in accounting, I continued to educate myself on accounting rules, at the same time understanding the Internet Protocol process and products and operations. I think all finance people are capable of doing that.
If they don’t want to, that’s different. We have both a business partnering path and the accounting path. I know many good accountants who like doing accounting and not necessarily want to do planning. We have different tracks, and they can move from one track to another.
I feel very passionately that understanding the finances of a company in a very good way is also understanding the company overall. The finance team invented a game, it’s like Monopoly, but Juniper-specific game, on how finances are put together and we actually train all the non-finance people using this game.
We run training courses for the engineers, for the sales team, so that they understand how the p&l is put together, how a changing supply chain or a changing customer requirement alters the finance chain.
A lot of what I do, which is why I’m often in the region, is to meet with employees and communicate with them. This is a very big part of the CFO role and also a very big part of the finance leader’s role. If you just stay in you cubicle, and you just look at the numbers, I don’t think you can be an effective CFO.
Don’t you find your independence compromised when you get very close to the business?
No. [As an accountant], you have a very good grounding on where the fiduciary line is. That is something where we spend quite a bit of time with our teams on, in terms of making sure that the strong base of fiduciary is always there. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing strategy and planning, I have my fiduciary roots. With the right encouragement, the right education, people are very capable of doing both.